Parents in other countries go without diapers all the time, but this is something that many parents in our society struggle to imagine, let alone attempt.
To help you decide whether Elimination Communication is right for your infant or toddler, this post dissects the what, when, and how of elimination communication.
What is Elimination Communication?
EC is a gentle method of toilet training for infants and toddlers that relies on parents learning our baby’s cues and encouraging elimination into a toilet, portable potty, or elsewhere outside. This can allow reduced use of diapers well before baby turns 2.
Why do some parents choose to try elimination communication?
Reduced Waste: Preventing some of the 3.4 million tons (27.4 billion diapers) that end up as trash in landfills each year.
Cost Savings: EC parents hope to save on diaper costs. The average parents spend $1350 on disposable diapers over 2 years.
Cloth diapering parents may want to use less water and time spent in laundering soiled diapers.
Health Benefits: Parents of children who are prone to diaper rash are encouraged by elimination communication to aid in prevention of rash as urine, feces , and chemicals from diapers, even organic ones, don’t stay in contact with baby’s skin for long.
Daycare Rules: Some parents can benefit from being able to send their little one to a daycare that won’t accept a diapered baby.
Connection: In addition to these benefits, many parents find that the process of elimination communication provides another way to improve connection with little ones.
How to Go About Elimination Communication
So you’re interested in EC, but are wondering now how to begin?
Watch for Elimination Cues: Experts say to look for grunting and facial expressions that might show signs that your child is pooping. Listen for sounds of baby passing gas.
What if there is no discernible pattern? In this case, experts say that successful parents will offer the potty frequently and at regular intervals, paying attention to your own needs to pee or poop. Many babies will go in the morning during or after breakfast. Offer the potty to pee after naps and first thing in the morning.
What if you aren’t with your baby 24-7? Experts also say that Elimination communication does not have to be an all or nothing process, and invite parents to offer the potty on days you are together, like weekends.
Some strategies for encouraging baby to eliminate outside of a diaper:
- Consider using cloth diapers or spending all day diaper free to identify elimination patterns of your baby
- Give baby vocal cues to encourage baby to understand when they are eliminating. When you take the diaper off and are rewarded with a reflexive pee say ssssssss, or when you hear gas or stool being passed, grunt uh uh uh.
- Encouraging elimination into a toilet: Hold your baby in your lap over the toilet – sitting backwards on the toilet, with your legs spread and baby’s back to your chest, supporting his or her legs with your hands and legs. Use one finger to aim your son’s penis down into the bowl.
- Older babies and toddlers can start with their feet on the edge of the toilet seat, while you provide support under baby’s arms to squat over the toilet bowl.
- Encouraging elimination into a portable potty: Start seated on the floor with your knees bent and legs spread apart over the potty, support baby on your knees and encourage elimination into the bowl between your feet. I like to place a changing pad beneath us if we are on carpet.
Support for parents attempting EC:
“Laurie Boucke encourages parents to rely on “Timing, Patterns, Intuition “ and to practice the Three C’s “Stay Calm, Confident, and Communicative”. And a fourth rule might be to stay Consistent, but flexible.
Be gentle with yourself and with baby- accidents happen. If you are not ok with getting a little urine on the floor or on your clothes, this probably isn’t for you and that is OK too!
Resources: This is just a brief overview of EC. There are many great resources for parents who want to learn more about EC like Diaper-Free Baby.org, or the book Infant Potty Training by Laurie Boucke